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tv   Road to the White House  CSPAN  February 16, 2014 10:53pm-11:01pm EST

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it is noteworthy to see that abigail adams, dolly madison clearly played important roles. martha washington makes the list. many of the first ladies and some of the ones who fall in the bottom five during the civil war era, with the notable exception of mary lincoln, are little known to many historians. and really, i think there would be the notable exception of abigail adams, dolly madison, it is the more modern first ladies who have been full partners in the sense that it is known to those who follow the institution of the first lady. full partners to their president and are in the news each and every day. are taking on issues. and really not only speak to the country but in many ways to the world about what and who america is. >> let's look at the bottom five. mary lincoln has been on this list in the past. >> absolutely. and really, that is most notable when you talk about the bottom five. mary lincoln has been among the bottom five each and every time until this year. the other influence we see in
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this survey sometimes is when there is new historical work and/or new work of popular culture that open up the book a little bit and tell the story of a first lady. that first lady's moves a little bit. mary lincoln portray by sally field in the film about lincoln and some of the literature on lincoln of late has told, given a wider perspective on mary lincoln. she does not rise to the top. she remains near the bottom, about 10 places from the bottom, but her stature increased a little
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bit with more understanding of the difficult situation she was placed in. and no longer just thinking of mary lincoln as someone who was mentally unstable, as she had been portrayed for a long time. the other first ladies near the bottom, in many cases, are associated with presidencies that were seen as unsuccessful and that they added little to it. one notable first lady, florence harding, i think stands out near the bottom because it is more and more been saying that she played some role in some of the perhaps corrupt aspects of the harding administration. so florence harding is nailed as lacking integrity, she scores right at the bottom. the other first ladies that tend to be at the bottom in many cases are associated with little-known presidents, and some of the presidents, both johnson and pierce, who book ended the civil war at a time in our country when we were really looking for great leadership and it was not until lincoln who, of course, is one of the most highly regarded presidents took over. but the first ladies before and after the civil war were seen as giving very little value to the country, very little value to the presidents who themselves
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were unsuccessful. >> the siena research institute did this in partnership with c-span. one of the new categories that was on the survey -- greatest political asset. eleanor roosevelt, hillary clinton, jacqueline kennedy, michelle obama, and nancy reagan. one other new topic area was lasting legacy. again, eleanor roosevelt topped that. jacqueline kennedy, hillary clinton, betty ford, and lady bird johnson. what is about those five women? >> the greatest political asset i think is a category that really matters now. no longer is the first lady only looked upon as being a white house steward, but rather as a very important political ally to the president.
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eleanor roosevelt stands out because she campaigns on behalf of the president. she was sent out to negotiate with various constituencies. she really stands out. hillary clinton quite obviously was instrumental in many of the policies of the clinton administration. and of course now is seen as a first lady most likely to serve as president. jackie kennedy makes the list. michelle obama as a current asset. nancy reagan shows up on that list in a very positive sense, i think, as a political asset. and the work that nancy reagan did as part of the reagan administration in some cases really taking care of the president, negotiating with various constituencies and even with warring parties within the administration itself was seen as quite crucial during the reagan years. greatest lasting legacy -- jackie kennedy, i think, deserves mention there. we just saw the 50th anniversary of the assassination of
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president kennedy. once again, the nation was reintroduced to the role that jackie kennedy played not only in her role of revitalizing the white house as an institution, introducing the country to the white house, but the grace she conducted herself was a model for the country at the time of the assassination. and that is truly a legacy that has stood out not only for the country but for the institution of the first lady and the importance of that position to the entire country. she speaks in many ways to the heart and soul of our country. at good times, demanding times, and at difficult times, as was that of the assassination. >> a quick look at some of the topline results of the siena research institute. the newest survey on first ladies in collaboration with c-span's first lady series. >> we conclude our series tomorrow night and we will discuss how the role of first
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lady has evolved. show the results of a new survey on the impact of each of the first ladies and we will include your phone calls on monday night. >> tonight, q and a with lee ellis. answers questions about flood relief in england and the israeli ambassador to the united states will talk about the impact of the iranian nuclear program. later, hearing about how prepared states are for extreme weather conditions. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014]
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>> this week on q&a, lee ellis discusses his five and a half years in north vietnam as a prisoner of war. >> lee ellis, go back to november 7, 1967, at 4:00. what happened? >> i was in my 53rd combat mission in vietnam. that day, we rolled in and were working with a group that had called us in and said that they needed some bombs on gunners. we rolled into do that and there were two of us on the f-4 phantom. the bombs came off the airplane at 4000 or 5000 feet. unusually, the airplane burst into several pieces.


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